Dr. Cara Stalzer of Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista on avoiding common summer injuries
By Courtnay Robbins
One of the best parts of living in Playa Vista is being so close to the beach. Whether summer fun means catching a wave on your surfboard or frolicking in the sand with your little ones, Dr. Cara Stalzer of Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista has some tips on how to prevent common summer injuries and illnesses.
Dangers of Sun Exposure
Any beachgoer’ No. 1 priority is to protect themselves from sunburns and further damage such as melanoma. “It
is very important to apply sunblock liberally, at least SPF 30 or greater,” Stalzer recommends. “Use the amount
of one shot glass full to cover your whole body. Reapply every 60 to 80 minutes.”
If you or your child does get a sunburn, you can treat it with aloe vera or Vaseline, but Stalzer cautions that “if you’re having severe pain or if the burn is ulcerated, then you need to be seen in the clinic.”
Extended time in the sun can also put you at risk for dehydration, which can lead to heat stroke, so it’s important to keep up with your water intake.
“A good guideline would be to drink one 16.9-ounce water bottle every hour, especially if you are out in the sun,” says Stalzer. Lightheadedness, dizziness, shortness of breath and loss of your sweat reflex are all signs of heat stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms you should seek medical attention immediately.
Water Sport Safety
In Southern California we are very ocean-oriented, and that’s where a lot of summer injuries may occur. When surfing, for example, you can get knocked around by the waves and come in contact with sharp rocks or coral.
“If you get a scrape or cut in the ocean, the first thing you want to do is clean it really well,” says Stalzer. “Pour as much water on it as you can to remove any dirt or particles that might be inside the wound. Depending on how deep the wound is, you might want to seek medical attention to prevent infection.”
Always protect yourself and others while boating, she adds.
“It’s really fun to get out on the boat and drink some beers, but it’s important to stay sober and avoid alcohol while operating any boat,” advises Stalzer. “If you do have a boating accident you want to make sure you’re always wearing your lifejacket, to prevent drowning.”
Bug Bite Prevention
Not all summer injuries happen on the coast. Los Angeles County is home to hundreds of beautiful hiking trails, but be aware of the surrounding flora and fauna. Insects, especially disease-carrying mosquitos, can be a potential hazard. Stalzer recommends applying bug spray if you’re going anywhere you might be exposed.
“Mosquitos like to breed in still, standing water, and we have quite a lot of that in the Ballona Wetlands. If you are going to be hiking out there, be sure to wear bug spray,” she says.
Mosquito bites typically go away on their own, but if you see any signs of infection — like redness or pain — apply a topical antibiotic like Neosporin.
Call (310) 423-4944 to reach Dr. Stalzer at Cedars-Sinai Playa Vista.